Lightroom v Photoshop: which is best for you?

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop icons superimposed over images.

There’s no better way to learn how to use Photoshop and Lightroom than by listening to the pros. Get to grips with photo editing with lessons by expert photographers and editors.


It depends on your objective: are you focused on detailed image editing, a busy photographer wanting to stay organised, or a multi-disciplined creative mixing photography with illustration?


Discover where you sit in the Lightroom v Photoshop debate. 

More information:

What are Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom?

Photo being edited in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom

Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard image-editing software used by creative professionals and passionate amateurs alike. It gives photographers, digital designers, and artists ultimate creative control. 


With Photoshop, you can transform images pixel by pixel with powerful image editing software – retouching photos and merging illustration with photography to create contemporary art.

Photoshop Healing Brush

Adobe Lightroom is aimed at photographers, with its useful combination of lite editing tools and organisational capabilities. With Lightroom, photographers can manage their workflows – retouching photos and creating easy-to-navigate catalogues of images for specific projects. 


Photographers can give photos star ratings to make them easy to find while managing their projects across their smartphone, tablet, or desktop, with apps and cloud storage.   

What are the differences between Lightroom and Photoshop?

The main difference between Lightroom and Photoshop is this:


  • Lightroom is a great tool for managing image libraries and can handle RAW files, while helping photographers adjust images in post-production.
  • Photoshop can make all sorts of visuals really shine – providing the ability to build in stunning effects and enhancements to photography, artwork, and mixed media. 


Professional photographers often use a combination of both – Lightroom for their day-to-day workflows, and Photoshop for detailed editing work. So it’s not always a case of Lightroom or Photoshop or Lightroom v Photoshop – it can be Lightroom and Photoshop together.  


Another important point: Lightroom is focused solely on photographers, whereas Photoshop is used across creative disciplines – including graphic design.




Photoshop Lightroom



Crop, rotate and straighten

Adjust light and colour

Make complex edits

Apply the same edits to a whole batch of images

Remove unwanted objects


Edit raw images

Make advanced colour corrections and lightening adjustments

Use advanced retouching capabilities

Remove unwanted objects with pixel-level precision and detail

Use layers to combine colours and textures

Save and apply presets to multiple photos at one time

Rate images to make them searchable

Watch step-by-step tutorials by experts

Store and organise your full photo library


Cut out objects and make selections

Combine images into a new creative project

Draw and paint with brushes

and pens

Create 3D artwork

Get creative with filters

Edit Videos  

Advantages of Photoshop.

Photoshop has advantages over Lightroom for serious photo editors and creative professionals – as well as students in disciplines such as graphic design, illustration, and publishing. This is mostly due to its superior power for image manipulation, creation, and enhancement.


Advantages of Photoshop include:

  • Powerful tools for advanced image editing 
  • Work across photography and design
  • Retouch photos or create full-blown artworks
  • Flexibility to experiment with layers 
  • Ability to create artworks made up of various images 
  • Creativity to add artistic effects with filters 

Advantages of Lightroom.

Lightroom has advantages over Photoshop for amateur and professional photographers who need to keep their photo libraries organised and have easy access to basic editing tools. This is mostly because Lightroom is a one-stop shop for working across devices on the go.   


Advantages of Lightroom include: 

  • Digital studio for busy photographers
  • Work on the go across laptops, tablets, and smartphones
  • Edit, organise, and store photos all in one place 
  • Edit photos simultaneously in batches to save time 
  • Easily find photos with smart search and tagging 
  • Find the best campaign shots quick with star ratings  


When should I use Photoshop and Lightroom?

Both Photoshop and Lightroom are leading image-editing tools. Photoshop is more powerful and has a fuller editing feature set, while Lightroom is a digital studio which combines basic photo editing with image management.  

Use Photoshop for…

Use Lightroom for…

DesiComplex photo editing and simple retouching. 

Retouching your photos’ light, colour, and perspective with simple edits.  

Working with layers to build an image – adjusting and refining for creative control. 

Organising your photos into albums and libraries for projects.

Combining images with text and vector graphics to create artworks. 

Managing photos across your smartphone, tablet, and the cloud. 

Combining multiple shots to create an arty composite image.

Rating photos for easy categorisation after a photo shoot.

Creating art, graphic design, or illustration. 

Handling large amounts of photos to get more work done more quickly. 

Choose Lightroom if… you’re a photographer who takes lots of images and needs a tool that helps you stay organised as well as retouching photos. 

Choose Photoshop if… you’re a serious photo editor, graphic designer, or illustrator.   

Using Photoshop and Lightroom together.

Knowing the differences between Lightroom and Photoshop will help you to pick the best image editor for any given project. In many cases it’s not a Lightroom v Photoshop decision – the two are designed to work seamlessly with each other. 


You can process a photo in Lightroom and then press command E or control E to pass it over to Photoshop, where you can fine-tune it. Many photographers begin the editing process with Lightroom – because it excels at handling large amounts of photos – before moving on to Photoshop for more complex jobs.


What’s more, it can be more cost effective to pay for both apps as opposed to just one or the other. If you want to enjoy the benefits of both Photoshop and Lightroom – an options which suits many photographers – check out the combined Photography Plan.

Still not sure?

What’s more, it can be more cost effective to pay for both apps as opposed to just one or the other. If you want to enjoy the benefits of both Photoshop and Lightroom – an options which suits many photographers – check out the combined Photography Plan.




Watch professional tutorials.

There’s no better way to learn how to use Photoshop and Lightroom than by listening to the pros. Get to grips with photo editing with lessons by expert photographers and editors.

Learn with Photoshop tutorials.

Learn with Lightroom tutorials.


How much do Photoshop and Lightroom cost?

There are several ways to buy Photoshop or Lightroom – or indeed Photoshop and Lightroom. We’ll quickly take you through them to help you make an informed choice. 

Buying each app individually.

If you’re sure you only want one or the other, you can take out an individual subscription to either Lightroom

or Photoshop – and benefit from a free trial. 

Buying the Photography Plan.

If you think you may want to use Photoshop and Lightroom, as many photographers do, then the combined Photography Plan could be the best option. 

Buying the full Creative Cloud subscription.

If you’re a creative who works with illustration as well as photography, you’ll get the best value from a full

Creative Cloud subscription. This gives you access to all the Creative Cloud apps, so you can work in Illustrator and InDesign as well as Photoshop.   

Free trials: want to try before you buy?

Before you take out a subscription, you may want to have a play around with Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom to see which is best for you. You can get a free trial of any Adobe Creative Cloud product to do just that. Get started now


Lightroom v Photoshop: frequently asked questions.

Generally, professional photographers use both Lightroom and Photoshop – rather than one or the other.


With Lightroom, you can manage your workflows and stay organised. Lightroom is great for working on the go – as it’s available on smartphones and iPads – and making light edits to batches of photos.


You can use Photoshop to do more detailed editing work. For example, adding creative effects and editing photos pixel by pixel to remove the smallest imperfections and removing objects. 

Photoshop cannot do everything Lightroom can.

  • Lightroom boasts image management features that Photoshop lacks. It’s designed to be used as much as a workflow and project management tool as an editing tool – with features such as albums and collections – and the ability to easily retrieve specific shots.
  • Photoshop also does a lot that Lightroom cannot. It is a far more powerful editing tool, giving you pixel-perfect control. It can also be used to create artworks with graphics and paintbrushes. Lightroom is definitely not the same as Photoshop.

You can use Photoshop and Lightroom together. Photographers will often start work in Lightroom – organising and categorising images and making light edits – before opening photos that need more work in Photoshop.

Because both apps are part of the Creative Cloud suite, they are well integrated with each other. You can open a photo from Lightroom in Photoshop with a simple keyboard shortcut.

Lightroom is not included with Photoshop: they are separate products. But if you want access to both, take out the Photography Plan. This plan includes Lightroom Classic and Photoshop, as well as Photoshop Express and Photoshop Camera.

Many photographers use both Lightroom and Photoshop: Lightroom for organising their photos into albums and basic editing, and Photoshop for more complex editing jobs.

As an editing tool, Lightroom is generally better for beginners than Photoshop. But really, Lightroom is aimed at photographers – both professional and amateur. That’s because it combines lite editing with image management features such as albums and libraries – to help photographers manage projects and workflows.

If you’re a beginner to photography, you may be better off with Photoshop Elements, Photoshop Express, or Photoshop Camera. These more basic apps are ideal for smartphone photographers looking to get started with photo editing.

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Creative Cloud

Creativity for all.

Photography. Video. Design. UX. 3D and AR. Creative Cloud has everything you need, wherever your imagination takes you.